After deliberating for over a day, a jury today awarded Albert Snyder $11 million in a case he brought against Rev. Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church after the church picketed the funeral of his son, who was slain in a vehicle accident in Anbar province in Iraq. It’s the first case brought against the church for their protests at military funerals. Westboro Baptist claims that U.S. military deaths are God’s punishment for a nation that tolerates homosexuals.
The Baltimore Sun reports: “In June 2006, Snyder sued the tight-knit fundamentalist Christian church and three of its members individually. The father argued that Westboro’s demonstrations exacerbated his pain and suffering in March 2006 while he mourned the death of his only son. Specifically, he charged that they violated his privacy, intentionally inflicted emotional harm and engaged in a conspiracy to carry out their activities. The jury decided in Snyder’s favor on every count. The church and its members maintained that they did nothing wrong. They based their legal defense on the First Amendment, arguing that their protests were constitutionally protected. Their attorneys told jurors yesterday that Westboro members were expressing closely held religious beliefs about an immoral society, including the military, that has endorsed homosexuality.”
$2.9 million is for compensatory damages, and was awarded early today. The jury came back later this afternoon and awarded an additional $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress.
Phelps (pictured above, today in Baltimore) has also recently renewed his push for a “Matthew Shepard in Hell” monument, picketed the funerals of victims of the Virginia Tech shootings, and picketed the Reverend Jerry Falwell’s funeral, claiming he was a friend of gays.
Happy Halloween, you scary old zombie.
Father of slain Marine wins case against funeral protesters [baltimore sun]